Special Learning Logo Light

Dealing with Challenging Behaviors: 3 Steps to Help You Figure out the “Why?”

30 blog avatar Dealing with Challenging Behaviors: 3 Steps to Help You Figure out the “Why?”
Expert Name:  Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Monisha Acharya-Lammert is the Outreach Director at Step By Step Academy 

(SBSA) and has been serving children diagnosed with autism since 2001. In her role as Director, she delivers parent and staff trainings on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA), provides strategies on behavior management, as well as oversees and develops comprehensive behavior plans with the guidance of the Human Rights Committee. With guidance from the Executive Director at SBSA, she has established and supervised an Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) classroom in the Morrow County area since August 2010.

Monisha was a home-based private consultant for five years before joining the Step by step team. She is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Dealing with Challenging Behaviors: 3 Steps to Help You Figure out the “Why?”
Have you been asking yourself, “Why is my child acting like this?” If so, we can help!  
Some examples of “challenging” behaviors are:
• non-compliance
• aggression toward others
• self-injurious behaviors
Step 1:  What is the target behavior?
Maybe your child engages in non-compliant behaviors quite frequently…basically, it seems like whenever you ask him or her to do something that is non-preferred.  Why does he or she do that?  Well, that is what you need to figure out.
The first step is to identify what the non-compliance looks like:  falling to the floor, protesting, engaging in tantrums, and/or property destruction; all attempts should be considered too.
Once you have identified what the most problematic/challenging behavior is that you want to address, you will need to determine the“payoff,” aka…”What is the function of his behavior?”
Step 2:  What is the function of the behavior?
To identify the function of the behavior, here are the possible functions divided into four groups:
a. Attention-engaging in behaviors to obtain attention
b. Denied access to preferred items/activities-behaviors serve as a means to gain access to preferred objects or activities
c. Escape/Avoidance-engaging in behaviors as a means to escape or avoid social demands
d. Automatic Reinforcement-behaviors that occur as a response to some internal stimulation
Step 3:  What do I do with this information?
Based on the information provided above, you will want to complete what’s called a Functional Behavior Assessment.  This is a way for you to take the target behavior and manipulate it through various conditions in order to actually determine what the function is.
The Special Learning Store has some wonderful products to help get you on your way toward assessing challenging behaviors. Check out the recommended products at https://special-learning.com/store.

Historia Social “Pedir un descanso” Plan de Estudios

ADHD Literature Review Webinar: Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Overview of the Evidence (RECORDED)

Strategies to Increase Beginner Classroom Participation Skills: Decreasing Problem Behavior with an FBA Part 1: How to Begin


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
Special Learning’s Free Hotline

This is an independent SL Hotline that is part of our VCAT service. This hotline has no connection with any other association or membership group.

Got a question you want a BCBA or other ABA expert to answer?
Fill in this form and one of our professionals will handle your question quickly and confidently. You can expect a response in 24-hours or less.